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Aloe Vera for Weight Loss: Benefits and Side Effects

Health + Wellness
Aloe vera is commonly found in weight loss products, including herbal supplements, juices, and diet drinks. Sommai Larkjit / EyeEm / Getty Images

By Rachael Link, MS, RD

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that's well known for its medicinal properties.


Though it's most commonly used topically to heal burns and promote skin health, it has also been used to treat a variety of other conditions.

In recent years, it has even become a key ingredient in juices, herbal supplements, and diet drinks geared toward weight loss.

This article reviews the benefits and side effects of aloe vera for weight loss, as well as how to use it.

Potential Benefits

There are two ways in which aloe vera may aid weight loss.

May Boost Metabolism

Some research shows that aloe vera could boost your metabolism, increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day to promote weight loss.

In one 90-day study, administering dried aloe vera gel to rats on a high fat diet reduced body fat accumulation by increasing the number of calories they burned.

Other animal research has shown that aloe vera could affect the metabolism of fat and sugar in the body while preventing the accumulation of belly fat.

Still, more studies are needed to determine whether aloe vera may offer similar health benefits in humans.

May Support Blood Sugar Control

Aloe vera may help improve blood sugar control, which may help increase weight loss.

In one study, consuming capsules containing 300–500 mg of aloe vera twice daily significantly reduced blood sugar levels in 72 people with prediabetes.

Another study in 136 people found that taking an aloe vera gel complex for 8 weeks reduced body weight and body fat, as well as improved the body's ability to use insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar control.

Improving blood sugar control can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which could prevent symptoms like increased hunger and cravings.

Summary

Aloe vera could help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and supporting better blood sugar control.

Side Effects

Aloe vera intake has been associated with several adverse health effects.

Some of the most common side effects include digestive issues, such as diarrhea and stomach cramps.

While aloe vera can act as a laxative to help promote regularity, excessive use could increase your risk of adverse effects like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.

It's important to note that while its laxative effects may reduce water retention, the resulting loss of water weight is only temporary and not a sustainable weight loss strategy.

What's more, since this succulent may reduce the absorption of certain medications, it's important to consult your healthcare professional before using it if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.

There is also concern about the cancer-causing effects of aloin, a compound found in non-decolorized, whole leaf aloe extract.

However, most aloin is removed during processing, so it's unclear whether commercial aloe vera products may also be harmful.

Furthermore, it's important to avoid eating aloe vera skin gels and products, as they may contain ingredients and additives that should not be ingested.

Finally, products containing aloe vera latex, a substance found within the leaves of the aloe vera plant, have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety concerns.

Summary

Aloe vera intake can cause several side effects and may decrease the absorption of certain medications. Unprocessed and unrefined extracts may also contain aloin, which is a carcinogenic compound.

How to Use It

Aloe vera leaves are comprised of three main parts — the skin, latex, and gel.

The gel is safe to consume and can be prepared by cutting the leaf in half and using a spoon or knife to scoop out the gel.

Be sure to wash the gel thoroughly to remove any dirt and latex residue, which can give the gel a bitter taste.

Try adding the gel into smoothies, shakes, salsas, and soups to bolster the health benefits of your favorite recipes.

You can also eat the skin of the aloe leaf by adding it to salads and stir-fries.

After slicing and washing the skin, you may also opt to soak the leaves for 10–30 minutes before adding them to your recipes to help soften them up.

Summary

The gel and leaves of the aloe vera plant can be consumed in a variety of recipes, including smoothies, soups, salsas, salads, and stir-fries. Always be sure to remove the latex layer.

The Bottom Line

Aloe vera is commonly found in weight loss products, including herbal supplements, juices, and diet drinks.

It may help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and improving your blood sugar control.

However, it may also be associated with several adverse effects and should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.

If you decide to give aloe vera products a try, be sure to purchase them from a reputable supplier.

Reposted with permission from Healthline. For detailed source information, please view the original article on Healthline.

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